When media freedom is lacking: How Ukrainian journalists utilized Facebook during the 2012 parliamentary elections

  1. Daria Taradai
  2. Dariya Orlova

Abstract

As the social media increasingly proliferate and shape media consumption in the present-day world, journalists growingly turn to them in search of direct access to their audiences. Under conditions of restricted media freedom, such access suggests a great asset both to journalists who can engage into an open discussion with a wider public and to the very public. In Ukraine, both trends had been vivid in recent years preceding the Euromaidan: on the one hand, media freedom had been deteriorating, but on the other hand, journalists had been utilizing social media more actively. The article examines how Ukrainian journalists communicated with their audiences via Facebook. In particular, it analyzes patterns of interaction during the 2012 parliamentary election campaign. The results of the study show a substantial level of confusion among Ukrainian journalists regarding the role of public debate on Facebook in 2012–2013. While journalists tended to dismiss users’ comments as mostly irrelevant, they did consider themselves to be providers of important information or viewpoints for the formation of public opinion. Although such interaction between journalists and other users does not satisfy the normative criteria of the public sphere, analysis of content and interviews with journalists showed that Facebook did suggest an evolving alternative public space in Ukraine, in contrast to the ever more controlled space of mainstream media during the presidency of Yanukovych.

 

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Central European Journal of Communication

Vol. 9, No 1 (16), Spring 2016

Strony od 37 do 56

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